American Muslims for Jerusalem: Arafat’s Stand on Jerusalem was Courageous
By Munir K. Nasser
A leader of the American Muslim community described Palestinian President Yasser Arafat’s position at the Camp David summit as “courageous.”
Khalid Turaani, Executive Director of American Muslims for Jerusalem told Albawaba.com that President Arafat’s “stood his ground and did not compromise” on issues of great significance to the Palestinian people.
“For once, even when we disagree with Arafat on many instances, on this occasion we have to salute him for his stand,” he said.
Turaani denied that he has been critical of Arafat in the past. “I am critical of Arafat when things go wrong. In this case he took a courageous stand on Jerusalem and would not accept a pseudo compromise from the Israelis that is meant to basically give him a way out. They didn’t give him anything genuine,” he stressed.
Turaani was critical of the Arab and Muslim worlds for their silence during the Camp David negotiations. “The Arab world was just astonishing and very disappointing. Both the Arab and the Muslim worlds did not hear a word from anyone at the official level, or lending a word of support at a time when the United States was moving its political might on the side of the Israelis,” he said.
The American Muslim activist noted that the support from President Mubarak and King Abdullah “was too little too late and it did not rise to the level of the occasion.” He said they did not call on the US not to pressure Arafat. “Now after the failure of the talks and Arafat being blamed for it, and we know what kind of really ridiculous concessions the Israelis were giving, I think it is time for the Arabs and the Muslim world to come out clean and without mincing words and say ‘this is unacceptable’. I think those Arab and Muslim countries that are flirting with the idea of normalizing relationship with Israel should halt that immediately,” he emphasized.
Turaani said was not really surprised at the collapse of the summit. “My predictions came true that this summit was started on the wrong basis, so it was doomed to failure from the beginning. It was based on Clinton’s capability to charm and persuade or even to intimidate,” he argued.
He said Arafat was the easiest target to blame because he is the weakest party in this. “I believe they are blaming him for not compromising on issues that are significant to his people, who are singing his praises right now,” he added.
Turaani believes that by praising Barak and not Arafat, Clinton is showing American partiality in these negotiations. “You can’t sell everything for the sake of compromise and peace,” he said. “It doesn’t become peace if it becomes coercion and Arafat, it seems, would not budge on issues that are very crucial to him as a leader.”
He blamed Israel for not giving any concessions on Jerusalem. He accused Barak of wanting to legitimize occupation and settlements in exchange of some administrative control over certain Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem.
“What the Israelis gave was disingenuous for saying they will give partial sovereignty, which means administrative sovereignty over some Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem,” he explained.
“Translate that into real words, the Israelis used to hire Palestinians to collect garbage in the Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem, now the Palestinians will have the right to hire those garbage collectors. On the other hand, the Israelis are asking in return for the Palestinians to accept the annexation of Male Adumim, which is larger than Tel Aviv in space. This means the practical choking of Jerusalem Arab areas geographically as well as demographically,” he remarked – Albawba.com
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)